HYDERABAD: After deciphering a 1403 AD inscription carved on a huge rock in the Gandhari Fort precints in Mancherial district, a Hyderabad-based historian has thrown light upon the ruler of the only rock-cut fort in Telangana.Through his findings, historian Dyavanapalli Satyanarayana also explains how some traditions continued for centuries, and how Vaishnavism was once propagated in this area, which is now famous for the Gandhari Maisamma Jatara.
The photographs of the inscription, which Satyanarayana decoded recently, was clicked by the State Department of Archaeology two decades ago.According to the historian, the name of the ruler of Gandhari Fort is mentioned in the inscription as Peddiraju Anantaraju, who was a vassal during the reign of King Anapota-II. The latter used to rule from Rachakonda, situated in the current day Nalgonda district.
Satyanarayana points out that even now, several local residents are named either Peddiraju or modified forms of the word such as Peddi or Peddulu. In fact, the name of the current priest of a famous temple located in the fort is Peddulu as well.
The ‘Ranam Kudupu,’ a tradition followed during the Gandhari Maisamma Jatara, actually dates back to the rule of Anapota-II, the finding reveals. Ranam Kudupu was, in fact, a religious ritual practiced during battle, which included sacrificing of animals.Although the temple in the fort is dedicated to a goddess currently, the inscription shows that Peddiraju had been propagating Vaishnavishm in the area during his reign. This is evident from a part of the inscription, which says King Peddiraju Anantaraju dedicated the “hanumanta thiruvani pratishta”. Thiruvani refers to Sankha, Chakra and Namam—all symbols associated with the Hindu god Vishnu. Besides Vaishnavite symbols, the inscription also mentions Hindu god Hanuman.
“Even today, those whose names are Peddiraju or its modified versions could be seen wearing Vaishnavite symbols, and hence, are known as Thirumanidharulu. They invoke the Vaishnava cult propagator Singhabhupala, known by the name Singaboya. Like their ancestors, these men belong to Padmanayaka caste. They now fall in the tribal category,” Satyanarayana explains.